Author: Amanda

Holy Week Hymns (Or, When Nothing Else Gets Through)

If you, like me, are struggling with what it means to observe Holy Week as a parent, if you have little time to meditate in silence and find most of your observances to be hijacked by whiny toddlers, I was reminded today of the power God has given to music to reach and shape our souls (even when we are annoyed with our kids and foundering in Holy Week intentions). We sang the following two hymns during our Spy Wednesday service today and both managed to get through to my not-particularly-soft heart. Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power; Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour, Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray. See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained! Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross. Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet, Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice …

Evening Prayer with a Xylophone

This post continues our series on the BCP in Daily Life. If you’re interested in submitting a reflection, email a 400-600 word post to thehomelyhours@gmail.com. I find it really helpful to read what other families do in terms of daily prayer, in order to know what is reasonable to expect and also to be inspired with what is possible. So, I thought I would write about my little family’s evening prayer routine, as an example of the very minimum, the least difficult or inspiring  (a beginner family’s daily prayer). We have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. We began realizing it would be possible to actually incorporate our toddler into evening prayer Advent of 2015, when she was almost 2 and she looked forward every evening to lighting (and attempting to blow out) the Advent candles (see video below. ) So every evening, we turn off all of our lamps, we light the candle that we got last year for Candlemas (with Bley’s lovely printable, which our daughter has so enjoyed), and we kneel …

Why Community Needs Music

I recently wrote a piece for Humane Pursuits, in answer to their call for posts on community. I’m persistently, unceasingly thankful for our church community at Christ the King. And, I think some of the reason that we have grown to be who we are is because of our musical culture (mostly thanks to our priest, Fr. Wayne McNamara): At my husband’s big 30th birthday party, we sang the Doxology before eating, like we normally do in our church community. Later, a musical friend, dependable for understatements, dryly observed: “I like how we just sang the best rendition of the Doxology in the the greater Ohio area and it wasn’t any big deal.” We sing together a lot — not because our congregation is composed of vocalists; we’re actually extremely average. Instead, our church has slowly grown a musical culture because of our priest, who insists that the “congregation is the choir” (we are high church Anglican; so, for example, our “sung service” includes a lot of chanting and difficult hymns without time signatures). To make …

Shrove Tuesday + Hot Cross Buns Recipe

When we became Anglican and my husband found out that a pancake dinner was incorporated traditionally into the church year, he knew we had come home. Something like “The Prayer Book, Church Year AND Pancakes: What More Could You Want?” would somewhat convey his exuberance at the discovery. And this year, my (almost) three year old is also pretty excited about the prospect of pancakes and getting to play with her little friends while we set up for our church’s party tonight. (Read more about Shrove Tuesday at Full Homely Divinity). Meanwhile, for the first time,  we made hot cross buns to eat for Ash Wednesday tomorrow. Nevermind that my daughter was still in her pajamas/pull-up and my house was falling to pieces around us, I’m feeling fairly happy about this. They aren’t traditional, since my daughter dislikes raisins. But, our main fare tomorrow will be the hot cross buns and cheese (since we have children and I’m a nursing mother). I know that some people only eat the hot cross buns on Good Friday, but …

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter

As we prepare for Lent this year, I’m thankful to own a great new resource — Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary (a very thoughtful gift to my daughter from her godparents). In the book, Alary sets out a map for Lent, explaining in simple but lovely prose that Lent is for “making time,” “making space,” and “making room” for the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. She connects the seasonal rhythms of the natural world and the liturgical rhythms of the church calendar. The illustrations by Ann Boyajian are subtle and evocative, very appropriate to the subject matter. I’m going to use this book as a guide to our Lenten journey, planning to incorporate the practices and traditions that Alary mentions: Lenten Candles Making Pretzels (I didn’t know this fascinating background!) Spring cleaning (i.e. “make space” in the house) Plant a Easter Garden Eat plain meals and cook with strict limits Be hospitable I’m hopeful that reading this book often and using it as a map will help our 3 year old …

If I handcraft artisan shoes for St. Nicholas Day, but have not love…

If I learned how to handcraft artisan shoes for my child for St. Nicholas’s feast day, but have not love, I’m only a stressed out mom going overboard. And if I read and share all the best Advent quotes, and meal plan every day according to the liturgical calendar, and if I even remember to order wheat from Amazon to plant on St. Lucy’s day, but have not love, I am nothing. If I KonMari away everything I have, and if I deliver up my body to childbearing and breastfeeding, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient (when my toddler wants to do something “by myself” yet again); Love is kind (when I want  to roll my eyes at a friend’s seeming melodrama); Love does not envy or boast (when I feel insecure about someone else’s beauty or choices); It is not arrogant (when I think I can do more than everyone else because, apparently, I’m exceptional) Or rude (when I make my child be polite, but don’t apply the same standards to …

On Baby Sleep Challenges, Psalm 127, and Monasticism

My first baby was not a good sleeper. During some of her early weeks,  we had sung Psalm 127 at church and it was going through my head during a particularly desperate night. I was pleading with God to help her fall back to sleep, on the basis of verse 2, “It is vain that you rise up early or go late to rest. . . for he gives to his beloved sleep.” I sympathized with that vanity.  I felt like I agreed so much with the psalmist that surely God would give me a good night’s sleep. But then I kept singing the Psalm in my mind. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Before, I never understood this abrupt change of subjects. But then, at that moment, I had a great epiphany. Indulge me in some parental midrash: “… for he gives to his beloved sleep. Here the psalmist, “Solomon” according to the superscription, perhaps hears the cry of his child (or several, it being Solomon, after all). He …

The Churching of Women

I gave birth to my second daughter a little over three weeks ago. So Sunday, as part of the celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration, our priest also wanted to include the Churching of Women. The Churching of Women liturgy is found after the Holy Matrimony section in the Prayer Book. It is headed “The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth, Commonly called the Churching of Women.” It consists primarily of the woman reciting Psalm 116 with the priest, along with a thanksgiving on behalf of the woman and a prayer that the new baby may grow in the love and service of God. One main reason my husband and I decided to become Anglicans is the arrangement of Scripture and prayers flowing out of Scripture in the Book of Common Prayer. Here, we have living words for practical church use that can hold all of life –  that are strong and rich enough to encompass both the joy and the sorrow of the human condition. So, I love that this short liturgy exists and …

Building Family Culture: Reading Aloud

My husband and I both come from homes where our mothers read to us, where we were shaped permanently by the power of good stories read aloud. Reading aloud means living through stories together. And, I think that knits a family together in shared experience beyond mundane life.  This also plants the seeds for corporate make-believe that goes past the imagination of the individual child. And, it’s life-giving for more than just children. I didn’t anticipate the joy of reading aloud to be so pivotal in our first year of marriage. We married a month after graduating college and moved to the Chicago area so that my husband could start seminary. Due to the random jobs I found as a seminary wife, I ended up having to wake up a majority of mornings around 3:30am. So, I would try to fall asleep around 8:30pm in order to get the sleep I needed, but I would find this difficult. Gradually, my husband started reading me to sleep. In that first year of marriage, we reread books like The Hobbit and …

Ascension Day: Christ Our King & Christ Our Brother

In the past, when I’ve thought about the Ascension, I’ve wondered, “What’s the big deal about Christ floating up into the clouds?”  I’ve felt that perhaps, the Ascension is slightly anti-climactic after the resurrection event. My imagination also has been stunted, since I can’t seem to picture the Ascension in any way that doesn’t seem ridiculous, whether flannel-graph-childish or Cape-Canaveral-Spaceship-launch. But this year, meditating on the Ascension has brought me great joy because this statement has been singing through my mind: The Ascension means that Christ is our King and is also our Brother. The Ascension is more than a miracle showing Jesus’ mastery over the physical world. It is Christ’s enthronement, when he is seated at the right hand of God as King and Priest. To be seated at God’s right hand is a frequent Biblical metaphor, especially noteworthy in Psalm 110, where a figure is foretold who unites the offices of King and Priest, with all things subjected under him.  Hence, right before his Ascension, Christ could declare “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given …